You might not know her name, but you've no doubt seen Dava Guthmiller's eye-popping designs.
Guthmiller's Potrero Hill studio, Noise 13, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, has styled the city's coolest events, institutions, shops, and startups with inventive branding, clever illustrations, and stunning packaging for clients including Eat Drink SF, SHN (now Broadway SF), and Uber.
Guthmiller, 45, grew up on the outskirts of Sacramento, working in her family's vintage auto repair shop—washing cars, going to Hot Rod swap meets and, as it turns out, developing an insatiable love for colors, lines, and craftsmanship. Then, an early trip to the grocery store sparked an obsession with wine labels. "I thought they were the most elegant thing on the shelf—a tiny, single image that gives you a sense of where something was made and how it might make you feel," she says.
Guthmiller worked in restaurants all through design school at SF's Academy of Art University; shortly after graduation, she launched Noise 13, where she would build her design dream from scratch, focusing first on what she knew best: the SF foodie scene.
(Courtesy Noise 13)
Noise 13 nailed the bold and unapologetic attitude of cannabis brand Skunk Factory with this cool package design inspired by defiant street style from fashionwear to caution tape. // skunkfactory.com
"In 1994, I moved to SF when it was still weird and wonderful. The overlap of creativity and business was everywhere, and there was always someone new to collaborate with," she says. "But even more so, I found my love of food in SF—from the variety to the passion for farming, preparing, eating, and even the collaborative way chefs work together. I've been volunteering for Slow Food since 2004. I love the whole scene."
The wine label lover snagged a coveted first wine client in Robert Mondavi Winery ("Having the opportunity to work with this legacy family that really loves what they do was beyond special"), but it wasn't until Uber came knocking in 2013 that Guthmiller's passion for cars would play out in her career: Her small shop achieved milestone success with its sleek art direction, design, and illustrations for the now-iconic startup.
These days, Guthmiller again finds herself at the cutting edge of packaging design. As cannabis vies to become the new wine, brands such as Skunk Factory are Noise 13's new Mondavi. The design studio is bringing its signature elevated style to the blossoming weed world, wrapping everything from Dovana's gourmet edibles to Skunk Factory's vapes and flowers in ultra-creative, upmarket packaging. Guthmiller even launched the site Revel & Rouse in 2018 to help mainstream this budding lifestyle, blending her swank design with cool cannabis brands, wellness-minded articles, and events.
For design savants, Guthmiller founded In/Visible Talks in January 2018 with fellow SF artist/designer Arianna Orland. The year-round series of intimate and creative salons—think hands-on maker workshops and artist discussions—culminates every January in a one-day design conference that brings together global designers of every medium—interior, product, architecture, graphic design, fine art—for the ultimate inspiration mashup.
For more information on In/Visible Talks events, go to invisibletalks.com.